Two Lives by Janet Malcolm
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Two Lives
By Janet Malcolm

Two Lives

Gertrude and Alice

By (author) See other recent books by Janet Malcolm
Format: Paperback

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Two Lives by Janet Malcolm

Book Description

"How had the pair of elderly Jewish lesbians survived the Nazis?" Janet Malcolm asks at the beginning of this extraordinary work of literary biography and investigative journalism. The pair, of course, is Gertrude Stein, the modernist master "whose charm was as conspicuous as her fatness" and "thin, plain, tense, sour" Alice B. Toklas, the "worker bee" who ministered to Stein's needs throughout their forty-year expatriate "marriage." As Malcolm pursues the truth of the couple's charmed life in a village in Vichy France, her subject becomes the larger question of biographical truth. "The instability of human knowledge is one of our few certainties," she writes. The portrait of the legendary couple that emerges from this work is unexpectedly charged. The two world wars Stein and Toklas lived through together are paralleled by the private war that went on between them. This war, as Malcolm learned, sometimes flared into bitter combat. Two Lives is also a work of literary criticism. "Even the most hermetic of [Stein's] writings are works of submerged autobiography," Malcolm writes. "The key of 'I' will not unlock the door to their meaning--you need a crowbar for that--but will sometimes admit you to a kind of anteroom of suggestion." Whether unpacking the accessible Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, in which Stein "solves the koan of autobiography," or wrestling with The Making of Americans, a masterwork of "magisterial disorder," Malcolm is stunningly perceptive. Praise for the author: "[Janet Malcolm] is among the most intellectually provocative of authors ...able to turn epiphanies of perception into explosions of insight."--David Lehman, Boston Globe "Not since Virginia Woolf has anyone thought so trenchantly about the strange art of biography."--Christopher Benfey

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780300143102
ISBN-10: 0300143109
Format: Paperback
(203mm x 127mm x 18mm)
Pages: 240
Imprint: Yale University Press
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publish Date: 9-Sep-2008
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions...


Books By Author Janet Malcolm

Forty-One False Starts by Janet Malcolm Forty-One False Starts, Paperback (August 2014)

From the celebrated author of The Journalist and the Murderer and Reading Chekhov comes a brilliant, compelling collection of essays on art, artists and the troubled nature of biography

Iphigenia in Forest Hills by Janet Malcolm Iphigenia in Forest Hills, Paperback (November 2012)

Deals with a murder trial in the insular Bukharan-Jewish community of Forest Hills, Queens, that captured national attention. The defendant, Mozoltuv Barukhova, a beautiful young physician, is accused of hiring an assassin to kill her estranged husband, Daniel Malakov, a respected orthodontist, in the presence of their four-year old child.

Journalist and the Murderer by Janet Malcolm Journalist and the Murderer, Paperback (June 2012)

In 1970 Jeffrey MacDonald was accused of murdering his pregnant wife, and the journalist Joe McGinniss decided to write a book about it. Malcolm's celebrated book sheds a fascinating light on the conflict and controversy that followed, and asks whether all journalists are, ultimately, immoral.

Reading Chekhov by Janet Malcolm Reading Chekhov, Paperback (June 2012)

'Reading Chekhov is a literary pilgrimage, homage, travelogue, biography, literary criticism and a restrained love letter all rolled into one ... It is the work of an iridescent and sympathetic imagination' The Times

» View all books by Janet Malcolm

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Author Biography - Janet Malcolm

Janet Malcolm is the author of The Journalist and the Murderer, The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, and Reading Chekhov, among other books. She writes for The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books and lives in New York City.

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Forty-One False Starts by Janet Malcolm
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